A Blast From the Past: A Glimpse of Summer 2011

Alex Jurgensen stands on the upper portion of a dock over water next to a wood railing.

This picture of Alex Jurgensen was taken on the upper portion of the dock overlooking Deep Bay at the Bowen lodge by the Sea during Adult Camp 2011. Photo Credit: Trudy Hardy.

Last time in the “A Blast From the Past” series, we shared a photo that turns ten years old this summer. This time, we’re sharing something a little different, a photo from Adult Camp 2011, the first camp run under the new leadership of the Camp Bowen Society, then called the Camp Bowen Working Group.

A Blast From the Past: A Window Into Summer 2009

John T. looks at the camera, wearing a red hoodie. He is slightly smiling. This picture was taken on the patio of the Bowen lodge by the Sea just outside the main doors into the dining hall.

This picture of John T. was taken on the patio of the Bowen lodge by the Sea just outside the main doors into the dining hall during Teen Tech and Rec Camp 2009.

Here is a picture taken ten years ago this summer at Camp Bowen. It comes to us via our first FaceBook page, now defunct, where it was originally featured.

Reminder: Deadline Approaching on July 15 for Registration to Music Camp 2019 for BC Youth Ages 8 to 18

Alex Jurgensen and Matthew Alvernaz stand, facing the camera. Matthew is holding his Saxophone with Alex in the background.

From left to right: Alex Jurgensen (16) and Matthew Alvernaz (13), two friends who met at Camp Bowen. Photo by Stuart Davis for the Vancouver Sun

As summer gets into full swing, bringing with it long days and nice weather, we’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that the new deadline to register for Camp Bowens Music Camp 2019 for Blind, Deafblind, and Low Vision BC Youth Ages 8 to 18 is fast approaching. The last day to register is July 15, 2019, under two weeks away. Campers will be accommodated on a first come first serve basis. After July 15, we will potentially have space for more campers but it is important that we know how many campers are coming as soon as possible to finalize numbers and pass final counts to our activity providers.

As always, our full camp details can be found at the following links: Web Version and :Printable/Downloadable PDF. We also now have a FAQ section that can be accessed here.

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please direct them to our camp coordinator, Alex Jurgensen at +1 (778) 512-4721 or by reaching out to us by any of these methods.

Thank you in advance for helping us make sure all blind, Deafblind, and low vision BC youth ages 8 to 18.

Important: Music Camp 2019 – Change of Age Requirements, Camp Costs, and a Note to Those Who May Be Experiencing Trouble Registering

Alex Jurgensen and Matthew Alvernaz stand, facing the camera. Matthew is holding his Saxophone with Alex in the background.

From left to right: Alex Jurgensen (16) and Matthew Alvernaz (13), two friends who met at Camp Bowen. Photo by Stuart Davis for the Vancouver Sun

Hello Everyone,

Summer is just around the corner and the preparations for another camping season at Camp Bowen are underway. Registrations, finalization of details, and a host of other tasks are on the go to ensure everyone will have a fun and rewarding experience at camp.

Today, we are very excited to announce that we are making some positive changes to Camp Bowen’s Music Camp 2019 program.

In response to inquiries about the ages of campers permitted to participate in the program, we have decided to drop the minimum age requirement to 8, making the age range 8 to 18. In the past, this camp has been popular with campers as young as 8 and we are excited to welcome campers from across the age range.

The second change we are making is to our camp costs. Thanks to an anonymous donor, all camp fees have been covered. Anyone who has already registered has not been charged for the camp fees and any future registrations will likewise be accepted free of charge.

Finally, if anyone has had difficulty in registering or has not yet received confirmation of their spot, please get them to call me directly at: +1 (778) 512-4721.

Please note: If you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time. Simply go here.

The updates above are reflected in our updated information, which can be found at the below links: Web Version and the Printable/Downloadable (PDF) Version.

Please note: For vision teachers and other service providers, the PDF version above is specially formatted for printing and should be used when sending hardcopy information home to families.

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please feel free to call me at: +1 (778) 512-4721.

Warm Regards,
Alex and the Camp Bowen Team

Announcing Music Camp 2019

At the end of last year we promised that 2019 would have some exciting announcements and today we are ready to announce the first of these, Music Camp 2019.

Music Camp 2019 is designed to bring together blind and Deafblind youth ages ten to eighteen from across the province for eight days on Bowen Island, BC, to learn the basics of playing musical instruments, build peer support networks, have fun, and gain confidence essential for full and equal participation in school band and other music programs in their communities alongside their sighted peers. Campers will explore the beginner band curriculum and will participate in an end of camp concert that their families, friends, and the Bowen Island community will be invited to attend. Giving campers skills and confidence in music fundamentals means campers can go on to take part in school band and community music programs.

Blind and Deafblind students face significant challenges when beginning in music programs due to the highly visual nature of the methods commonly used in beginning band and other forms of music instruction. Our program is designed to give students a foundation of skills and confidence that they can use to bypass visual instruction by taking them through the first part of the beginner band curriculum in a non-visual manner that sets them up to succeed in mainstream band and music programs alongside their sighted peers.

Like all of Camp Bowen’s summer camp programs, Music Camp 2019 balances recreation and skills learning, with a focus on fun! At Camp Bowen, fun is at the core of what we do. Camp fires, hikes,, community outings, and board games are just some of the activities we offer. The skills taught through these fun activities prepare youth for truly life-long independence.

Full Details and Registration

To find out more or to register, go here.

Listening to Blind Canadians

Here is a video of blind Canadians talking about some of the challenges facing people who are blind in Canada. It was filmed at the Canadian Federation of the Blind Convention in Victoria last Spring and includes some of our staff and our colleagues from the Canadian Federation of the Blind and the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind.

Listening to Blind Canadians from Thelma Fayle on Vimeo.

Join Us on Friday, February 22,2019 at 7:10 Pacific for the First Meeting of the Bowen Island Accessibility Group

Have you ever faced an accessibility-related barrier on Bowen or do you know someone who has? Are you interested in seeing the island become a more inclusive and accessible space? Are you a person with a disability looking for peer support on-island? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, come down to the Flex Room at the library on Friday, February 22, 2019 at 7:10 PM for the first meeting of the Bowen Island Accessibility Group (BIAG), an initiative of the Camp Bowen Society for the Independence of the Blind and Deafblind. BIAG is a pilot project to create a support and advocacy group to bring Bowen Islanders together to explore ways of providing peer support and advocacy to people with disabilities, both visible and invisible, along with more generally applying creativity to making Bowen Island a more accessible and inclusive place. You don’t have to have a disability to participate, just a desire to see Bowen become more accessible and inclusive.

At this first meeting we will discuss about where we as a community want BIAG to go in the future. There will also be a chance to share about any accessibility-related barriers participants have had and/or any ideas people have for making Bowen more accessible and inclusive. There will be food provided, either sandwiches or pizza, we’re still finalizing that part. We already have guides in place for any blind or Deafblind attendees who need one and we are also working on getting sign language interpretation for the event.

To attend, please call Alex Jurgensen at: +1 (604) 947-0021 Extension 102, text +1 (778) 908-0521, or use any of these other contact methods to let us know you are coming before Friday, February 22, 2019 at 12 PM and let him know you are coming. If you have any accessibility-related accommodations you need in order to attend the event, please let Alex or another Camp Bowen team member know and we will work with you to find a solution.

We look forward to seeing you all on Friday. If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us. If you can’t make it to BIAG this Friday but still want to be involved, please contact Alex or another Camp Bowen team member and we can get you on the list to receive future updates about BIAG.

Warm regards,
The Camp Bowen Team

Staff Photos, Then and Now

Camp Bowen turned 55 this year and our team’s commitment is as strong as ever. Though there have been many challenges this past year, one of the pillars of Camp Bowen has always been the people who have come together to make the programs we all love and cherish happen. In reflection of this, here are two staff photos, taken 50 years apart. The first was taken in 1968 and the other this year.

4 Women stand, posing for the camera in the dining hall of the lodge. 1 Man stands at either end of the group.

Taken in 1968, this staff photo features the lodge staff in the dining hall of the lodge. Credit: Bowen Island Museum and Archives.



This staff photo features the Board of Directors of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired standing, posing for the camera wearing their orange staff shirts with the Camp Bowen logo emblazoned on the left side of the chest in blue.

Taken in 2018 at the Camp Bowen pub night fundraiser at Moose's Down Under in Vancouver, this staff photo features the Board of Directors of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired. From left to right: Alex Jurgensen, Jessica Gladysz, Jocelyn Gladysz, Peg Mercer, Sara Batt, and Aedan Staddon.

2018, A Year in Review

As 2018 winds down and we prepare to ring in 2019, we thought we’d take a moment and reflect on the year. 2018 has been a very busy, difficult, and rewarding year that has brought both challenges and positive momentum.

8 old books of various colours in a stack

In January, we announced that we had become a licensed publisher at the end of 2017. Building on this work, we have been busy developing an artificial intelligence tool, named Bailey, to aid the publishing and library industries in making books accessible to everyone. Revenue generated by licensing Bailey will go into funding our programs here at Camp Bowen. Work on Bailey will continue into 2019 and beyond as the digital publishing landscape continues to evolve and we are excited to see her learn and progress.

Jessica, Alex, Jocelyn, and Aedan sit behind a table with promotional materials on it.

Staff sit behind the Camp Bowen table at the 2018 national AEBC conference. From left to right: Jessica Gladysz, Alex Jurgensen, Jocelyn Gladysz, and Aedan Staddon.

In April, Alex, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan staffed a table at the national Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) conference. Jessica spoke about Bailey at the conference, during a session put together by the National Network for Equitable Library Services (NNELS).

Also in April, the independent living skills training department took on a new student. He has been working with us ever since and we look forward to continuing to work with him into 2019.

Jessica, Jocelyn, Aedan, and Alex are sitting on a couch. Aedan is smiling and the rest are laughing, looking like they are all having fun.

Camp Bowen’s delegation to the 2018 national CFB convention on convention weekend. From left to right: Jessica Gladysz, Jocelyn Gladysz, Aedan Staddon, and Alex Jurgensen.

In May, Alex, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan attended the national Canadian Federation of the Blind (CFB) convention on behalf of Camp Bowen. They spoke at the convention about the importance of the covenant that governs the Bowen Island Lodge and about how it must be defended. They also spoke about the various programs and initiatives of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired.

This staff photo features the Board of Directors of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired standing, posing for the camera wearing their orange staff shirts with the Camp Bowen logo emblazoned on the left side of the chest in blue.

Taken in 2018 at the Camp Bowen pub night fundraiser at Moose's Down Under in Vancouver, this staff photo features the Board of Directors of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired. From left to right: Alex Jurgensen, Jessica Gladysz, Jocelyn Gladysz, Peg Mercer, Sara Batt, and Aedan Staddon.

In July, the whole Board of Directors, including Peg, Alex, Sara, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan, organized and attended a pub night fundraiser in support of Camp Bowen at Moose’s Down Under pub in Vancouver. More than 30 guests came together for a fun night of madlibs, door prizes, a 50/50 draw, and great food.

Jordan, Jessica, Jocelyn, Aedan, and Alex kneeling in front of the Camp Bowen banner with the Showdown table in the background.

Camp Bowen volunteers at Bowfest 2018. From left to right: Jordan Parke, Jessica Gladysz, Jocelyn Gladysz, Aedan Staddon, and Alex Jurgensen. Photo credit: Lisa.

At the end of August, Alex, Jessica, Aedan, and Jocelyn, along with two additional volunteers, Jordan and Lisa, attended Bowfest, Bowen Island’s community fair. They sold Braille puzzle books designed for sighted people to decode, wrote up Braille bookmarks, and administered two 50/50 ticket draws. As usual, the organization’s tent also featured a Showdown table, provided to us by BC Blind Sports. Balloon animals were also created and given out to many a happy child.

All campers from the 2016 adult retreat on the patio of the Bowen Island Lodge with Deep Bay in the background.

All Campers from the 2016 adult retreat. Photo credit: Lorraine Ashdown.

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing dispute with the Bowen Island Lodge and its owners, who wish to have legal protections for people with disabilities removed from the property via a rezoning application, the 2018 camping season was postponed. The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired remains committed to defending the rights of people with disabilities and will continue its work to oppose this rezoning into 2019. We hope to return to normal summer camp operations as soon as possible and appreciate your patience. If you have any questions or concerns or would like to know how to help, please see here or call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 102.

In October, Sara Batt, who has served in various capacities on our Board of Directors since 2014, stepped down and has accepted the post of Transportation Committee Co-Chair. She brings an enthusiasm for and a vast knowledge of travel to the position and we look forward to working with her in her new role.

A wrapped box of Purdy's hedgehogs.

Image copyright Purdy’s

At both Easter time and Christmas, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired conducted fundraisers selling Purdy’s chocolates. At Christmas time, we split the proceeds from our Purdy’s fundraiser with one of our partners, the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind Society.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank AEBC, BC Blind Sports, the Bowen Island Community Foundation, the Bowfest committee, CFB, C-Lovers Burquitlam, Moose’s Down Under, the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind Society, and our countless other supporters, both individuals and organizations. Without you, we could not do the work that we do.

We have several other announcements we can’t wait to share with you but those will unfortunately have to wait until early 2019. In the meantime, we hope all of you have a safe and enjoyable New Year.

The Camp Bowen Team

Reminder: Get Your Tasty Purdy’s Holiday Treats and Support Camp Bowen and the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind

Hello Everyone,

Just a quick reminder that it isn’t too late to get your tasty Purdy’s holiday treats and support both Camp Bowen and the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind at the same time. Orders must be in by 11:59 PM Pacific on this coming Wednesday, November 28 and can be picked up in Victoria, Bowen Island, Vancouver, and Surrey.

Note to users of screen readers: You don’t need to register before accessing the fundraiser. Just go to the link below, and find the box that asks for your email address. Then, Enter your email address and press “Join Campaign”.

Order now!

The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired and the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind will jointly receive 25% of the proceeds from this fundraiser directly from Purdy’s.

To arrange your pick up date and location or if you have any questions or concerns, please call +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 102. Alternatively, you can call +1 (844) MYBOWEN (692-6936) extension 102.

Merry Christmas,
The Camp Bowen Team